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Adoption by Family Type: Racially and Culturally Diverse Families

By | Parenting

Racially and culturally diverse adoption refers to placing a child of one race, culture, or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race, culture, or ethnic group.

The truth at the core of adoption is this: Family is more than biology. A family is defined by love. While some adoptive families may wish to adopt a child of the same racial background as themselves, others choose to adopt a child of a different race or ethnicity.

Transracial adoption is becoming increasingly common and socially accepted in America as couples continue to open their arms to children of all backgrounds. This calls for increased education around transracial adoption — its joys, challenges, and the unique journey of adopting interracially.

Racially and culturally diverse adoption forever changes families and requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Prior to the placement and throughout the parenting journey, parents who have adopted a child of another race, culture, or ethnic group must commit to deepening their own understanding of different races, cultures, and ethnicities to support their child or youth’s exploration of their own identity.

Advocate for your child.

Advocacy begins with understanding. What are the unique events that have shaped the history of your child’s racial heritage? What are some situations they may experience that you are unfamiliar with? This is where educating yourself will be very helpful.

Find ways to celebrate their racial heritage.

What ways can you do to highlight and celebrate your child’s ethnic heritage? This could mean cooking different food, celebrating different holidays, or simply participating in community events that you otherwise would not.

Parents in a transracial or transcultural family should do the following:

  • Become intensely invested in parenting
  • Tolerate no racially or ethnically biased remarks
  • Surround themselves with supportive family and friends
  • Celebrate and talk about all cultures
  • Take your child to places where people present are from his/her race or ethnic group

Transracial Adoption Can Be for Everyone

When you think of interracial adoption, what kind of family do you picture? If you’re like most people, your mental image is of white parents with a black child. This is a beautiful family! However, we need to dispel the idea that transracial adoption is something only white parents do. The interracial adoption definition is much broader than that.

There will be times when a black family adopts a white child, and there will be times when white parents adopt a black baby. Asian or Hispanic parents may adopt a child of a different race, and biracial couples may adopt a newborn whose ethnicity is different from either of theirs.

The beauty of transracial adoption is that, at its core, it is a reminder of the overwhelming power of love. Race matters, heritage matters, and understanding societal impacts on individuals of different races is a requirement for any parent considering adopting interracially. Within all of that, a transracial adoption displays love.

In the end, no matter what kind of adoption, the outcome is a beautiful family.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, NaTasha Sawicki, LBSW


Transracial Adoption | Adoption.com

Transracial and Transcultural Adoption (childwelfare.gov)

Potty Training the Adopted Child

By | Parenting

Potty training a toddler can seem like an overwhelming task.  Questions like where do I start, how do I know if they’re ready, and what do I even do may run through your mind as you’re figuring out all things related to potty training.  Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind if you’re at a point of potty training your child.

  • Set a schedule
    • Be sure to set potty times up on a consistent schedule and stick to it
    • Perhaps have a timer that dings when it’s time to try
  • Allow your child to have as much say in their training as possible
    • Create a time to pick out a potty chair together
    • Allow your child to pick out underpants of their liking
  • Be aware of the words you chose and the tone during potty training
    • Speak in a matter of fact way when talking about bodily functions, body parts, and where to use the bathroom
    • Accidents will happen – how you respond, both with words and expression, make a world of a difference
  • Modify your approach to your child’s personality
    • Each child will be ready to potty train at different times, and this is ok
    • Learn different techniques that might work with your kiddo –
      • stickers, praises, talking about it in everyday situations, or by example
    • Make it fun!
      • Have books and toys readily available to play with if need be!
      • Sing songs while waiting!
      • Consider praises and motivators (such as stickers) to assist with encouragement

For additional articles to read and consider, check out these resources:


This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW

Pica, Rumination Disorder, Laxative Abuse, and Compulsive Exercise

By | Parenting

For our last blog post series on eating disorders, I will be discussing Pica, Rumination Disorder, Laxative Abuse, and Compulsive Exercise, which are all classified as eating disorders by the National Eating Disorder Association.


According to National Eating Disorder Association, Pica is an eating disorder that occurs when an individual eats items that are not thought of as food and contain no nutritional value. Examples of items that someone with Pica might ingest are hair, dirt, paint chips, clay, etc. Pica can occur with other mental health disorders, such as intellectual disability, autism, and schizophrenia. Those with iron-deficiency anemia, malnutrition, and pregnancy are the most common cause of Pica.

Diagnosis: To diagnosis Pica, there are no laboratory tests available. A clinical history of the patient will help determine the diagnosis. In addition to clinical history, it is also important to receive tests for anemia, intestinal blockages, and/or side effects from substances/items consumed, such as paint or bacteria/parasites from dirt.

Symptoms and Warning Signs: Symptoms are typically related to the non-food items that the individual has eaten. Below are a few warning signs.

  • At least one month of consistently eating non-food items that do not contain any nutritional value
  • Eating items that are not culturally supported
  • Eating of items need to be developmentally inappropriate
  • Bowel problems
  • Injuries to teeth
  • Lead poisoning
  • Infections

How to help: If you or someone you know is displaying warning signs or symptoms of Pica, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Pica can typically be treated with certain medications and/or vitamins. It is also important to address any illness or medical needs resulting from non-food items.

Rumination Disorder

According to National Eating Disorder Association, rumination disorder involves the regular regurgitation of food that occurs for at least one month. This may include food that is re-chewed, re-swallowed, or spit out. Rumination disorder can be confused with bulimia, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and gastroparesis.

Diagnosis: According to the DSM-5, the criteria for rumination disorder are:

  • For at least one month, there needs to be repeated regurgitation of food.
  • The regurgitation of food is not due to a medication condition, such as a gastrointestinal condition.
  • It does not occur with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.
  • If another mental health disorder is also occurring, it is severe enough to get clinical attention.

Symptoms and Warning Signs: According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of rumination disorder include:

  • Effortless regurgitation, typically within 10 minutes of eating
  • Pain or pressure relieved by regurgitation
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Dental issues
  • Social isolation
  • Bad breath

How to help: As with all eating disorders, it is important to seek professional help if you feel that you or someone you know may be struggling with rumination disorder. According to Mayo Clinic, behavioral therapy or medications may be included in the treatment protocol. Behavioral therapy it can help teach people how to breathe from the diaphragm which can help with rumination disorder.

Laxative Abuse

According to National Eating Disorder Association, “laxative abuse occurs when a person attempts to eliminate unwanted calories, lose weight, feel thin, or feel empty through repeated, frequent use of laxatives.” It is noted that although people try to use laxative abuse for weight loss and control, it can be harmful as laxative abuse actually aids in the loss of water, minerals, and electrolytes important for body hydration.

Symptoms and warning signs:

  • Severe dehydration
    • Weakness, fainting, blurry vision, kidney damage
  • Internal organ damage
  • Increase risk of colon cancer

How to help: Treatment for laxative abuse may include assistance from multiple health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, primary care provider, and dietician. It is important to have support from friends and family members or others also struggling with laxative abuse.

Compulsive Exercise

Although compulsive exercise is classified as an eating disorder by the National Eating Disorder Association, it is not a diagnosis with the DSM-5. Compulsive exercise can have many different definitions such as: secretive or hidden exercise, exercise as permission to eat, and exercise that interferes with important activities or continues to occur while injured or with medical complications. Compulsive exercise can be linked to many eating disorders.

Symptoms and Warning Signs: For a full list of symptoms and warning signs, visit: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/compulsive-exercise

  • Overtraining
  • Exercise taking place despite an injury
  • Feeling guilty if not exercising
  • Withdrawal from friends/family

How to help: If you or someone you know is showing symptoms and warning signs of compulsive exercise, it is important to seek professional help. Typically compulsive exercise can lead to serious eating disorders.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW


National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, February 22). Rumination Disorder. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/rumination-disorder#:%7E:text=The%20DSM%2D5%20criteria%20for,(e.g.%2C%20gastrointestinal%20condition).

Rumination syndrome – Symptoms and causes. (2020, October 14). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rumination-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20377330

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018a, February 22). Pica. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/pica

familydoctor.org editorial staff. (2021, January 28). What Is Pica? – Pica Eating Disorder. Familydoctor.Org. https://familydoctor.org/condition/pica/

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018a, February 22). Compulsive Exercise. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/compulsive-exercise


National Eating Disorders Association. (2018b, February 22). Laxative Abuse. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/laxative-abuse








Why is Post Adopt Needed?

By | Parenting

I’ve been with Catholic Charities ND for two months now, and I know that AASK staff speak with families that are just beginning to research adoption almost every week. Many of these families ask questions about current programs and process, length of wait for placement. But what about the questions about the future or what happens “after” the adoption?

Why is it important for families to ask their agency’s role after the adoption? Parenting is difficult in the best of circumstances, but there can be additional struggles with parenting children with hard beginnings. Children who have spent time in a foster home or have experienced trauma and neglect may require additional care from their parents. I encourage families to ask a different but still important question: “Who is going to be there for me after adoption?”

Families often dream of their adoption ending in a “and they lived happily ever after” scenario.  Parents often feel the adoption journey is the difficult part and once they bring home their child, all will be well. Parenting a child who has experienced trauma may take parenting skills and services that families weren’t aware of or prepared for. This is why post-adoption support is imperative!

Many children who join their families through foster care adoption may have deep wounds, and may behave in ways that don’t respond to typical parenting efforts. Which is why we at ND Post Adopt Network meet parents where they are at and for as long as necessary. We have compiled resources for adoptive and guardianship families to ensure families succeed.

Post Adopt can help with the transition of becoming a family after Finalization. We offer support groups, webinars and many different trainings, including Seven Core issues in Adoption and Trauma Knowledge Masterclass. There are even family events including a Mom and Dad’s retreat to help bring families together and get the support they need after finalization and a winter retreat that allows all family members to be involved. It’s imperative for families to know the services and supports don’t go away once finalization occurs.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, NaTasha Sawicki, LBSW

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder, Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder, and Orthorexia

By | Parenting

Throughout this blog post, I will discuss the diagnostic criteria, symptoms and warning signs, and ways to help someone struggling with Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). Also discussed is Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder and Orthorexia.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder

When a person receives a diagnosis of Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) it typically means that they have many of the same symptoms as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and/or binge eating disorder still, they do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for those eating disorders. OSFED can affect individuals of all ages and genders. Previously, OSFED used to be known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) (National Eating Disorder Association, 2018).

Diagnostic Criteria: Because OSFED has a unique diagnostic criteria with having the same symptoms of other eating disorders, but not meeting the full diagnostic criteria, OSFED might present as the following:

  • Atypical anorexia nervosa: when the criteria are met for anorexia nervosa, but the individual’s weight is within or above the normal range. Those with atypical anorexia nervosa have the same physical and psychological complications as anorexia nervosa.
  • Bulimia nervosa of low frequency and/or limited duration: when the criteria are met for bulimia nervosa, but the binge eating and compensatory behaviors occur less than once a week and/or less than three months.
  • Binge eating disorder of low frequency and/or limited duration: when the criteria are met for binge eating, but binge eating occurs less than once a week and/or for less than three months.
  • Purging disorder: when an individual engages in self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives/medications to achieve a certain weight or shape.
  • Night eating syndrome: when an individual engages in eating after waking up or by eating large amounts of food following the evening meal. An individual who struggles with night eating syndrome is aware of the eating.

Symptoms and Warning Signs: Below are a few emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms and warning signs. For a complete list, please visit: https://nedc.com.au/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-explained/types/other-specified-feeding-or-eating-disorders/

  • Emotional and Behavioral: Negative body image, secretive behavior around eating, food preference changes, frequent trips to the bathroom during or after meals, and anxiety around mealtimes
  • Physical: Inability to maintain normal body weight, sensitivity to the cold, fatigue, poor immune system, and signs of vomiting.

How to help: The most important way to help someone struggling with OSFED is to reach out for help. OSFED can be ias dangerous and serious as other eating disorders, so receiving help as soon as possible can aid in the recovery process.

Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder

Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder is similar to OSFED, which is discussed above. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (2018), unspecified feeding or eating disorder is typically used in situations when a clinician chooses not to specify the reasoning that the diagnostic criteria is not met for a specific feeding and eating disorder and this can also include having insufficient information to make a more specific diagnosis.

According to Ekern, in “Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED): Signs and Symptoms,” an individual with UFED can have certain thoughts and behaviors about food and body image, but it is not enough to diagnosis a specific eating disorder as typically, those thoughts and behaviors are not severe enough to cause significant distress.

It is important to note that if an individual receives a diagnosis of UFED, that diagnosis can change as more information is obtained or as symptoms change.


According to the National Eating Disorder Association (2018), orthorexia can fall into the category of the OSFED. It is not recognized in the DSM-5, but there is more and more research and awareness coming to light regarding orthorexia. Someone who may struggle with orthorexia is typically obsessed with healthy and proper eating, defining good and bad foods. It has been shown that many individuals with orthorexia also have OCD. There is no specific treatment plan for orthorexia, but professionals may treat it as anorexia or OCD. Eating healthy and following a diet does not mean someone has orthorexia. Orthorexia may appear when someone becomes fixated and obsessive over eating healthy.

Diagnostic Criteria: Due to orthorexia not being in the DSM-5, there is no formal diagnostic criteria for orthorexia.

Symptoms: Obsessively checking ingredient lists and nutrition labels, cutting out food groups at the same time, thinking about what foods might be served at different events an individual is attending, and distress when healthy foods are not available.

How to help: Connecting someone who has orthorexia to a registered dietitian or nutritionist can be helpful. Due to being fixated on eating healthy and defining what is good and bad, meeting with a dietitian can help explain what foods and why certain foods are beneficial for overall health, even if they think they are unhealthy.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW


Ekern, Baxter. “Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED): Signs and Symptoms.” Eating Disorder Hope, 8 Mar. 2016, www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/unspecified-feeding-or-eating-disorder-ufed-signs-and-symptoms.

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, February 22). Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/unspecified-feeding-or-eating-disorder

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018b, July 30). Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/osfed

National Eating Disorders Association. “Orthorexia.” National Eating Disorders Association, 13 Dec. 2019, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/orthorexia.



A Survival Kit for The Winter Blues!

By | Parenting

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), more commonly known as “The Winter Blues,” affects millions of American adults and children every year.  A primary symptom of SAD is a change in mood resulting in feelings of sadness, depression, increased irritability, and possible feelings of hopelessness.  SAD also impacts an individual’s ability to think positively.  They may lack enjoyment, seek social isolation, have low energy, increase their want and/or need for sleep, and increase their cravings for comfort foods instead of healthier food choices.  SAD differentiates from clinical depression due to the fact that the depressed mood and symptoms typically will last 4-5 months.  Adults and children in northern climates are at a higher risk of developing SAD symptoms as the fall and winter seasons shorten the hours of sunlight significantly each day.  Whether parents notice symptoms of SAD in themselves, or their child(ren), the symptoms must be taken seriously.  Therefore, families need to be prepared to face SAD symptoms, or the Winter Blues, together!

The good news?  There are many things parents can do to help themselves, their children, and their family overall thrive throughout the bitterly cold winter days!

  • Take advantage of the “nice” weather days! When the sun is shining, bundle up the whole family and release some physical energy outside by going sledding, ice skating, building a snowman, ice fishing, snowshoeing, or participate in a family snowball fight!  Be sure to capitalize on all of the “fun” traditional winter activities whenever possible!
  • Be creative when stuck inside! Minimize time on the TV, phones, computers, gaming systems, etc.  Here are a few ideas to engage in indoor activities together as a family:
    • Paint the snow! If you can’t go outside, bring some snow inside.  Fill a large bowl or multiple small bowls with snow, and then use watercolor paints to create fun designs.  This activity will stimulate excitement, laughter, and communication for all involved.
    • Create your snowman! Grab some construction paper, mini marshmallows, glue, cotton balls, and markers.  Engage in this creative activity together and then follow-up with a conversation of why each person chose to make their snowman the way they did.  You can also hang the finished products on the wall to show pride in your family’s work and remind each member of your family of a fun memory!
    • Pick your favorite summer activity and recreate it at home! Go “camping” in your living room or set up a beach-style party!  Whether you eat s’mores in a tent and tuck into your sleeping bags that night or decide to put on swimming attire and create a beach vibe, there will be excitement and fun had by all!
    • Find more creative ideas for indoor winter activities online. Pinterest has a plethora of ideas!  The three ideas noted above were retrieved from the following article: 15+ Indoor Winter Activities for Kids to Beat the Winter Blues (momooze.com).  If you like the three ideas I mentioned, be sure to check out the rest!
  • Create a well-balanced meal plan with your family each week to avoid the comfort food cravings!
    • It is challenging as a parent to juggle all appointments, activities and keep up with daily chores when all family members are healthy and not struggling with symptoms of SAD. Therefore, by having each family member sit down weekly to create a menu focused on ensuring nutritional values are met through most meals will help parents stay focused.  Depletine of the essential nutritional food groups occurs often during the 4-5 month window of The Winter Blues.  You have the power to offset that depletion and engage in more family time!
    • Take the time to shop for your meal plan/weekly menu as a family. Although taking your kids to the store can create stress, it will get you all out of the house for a while.
    • Make cooking supper a family event each night or as often as possible. Engage your children in the process of preparing and cooking as age-appropriate.
  • It is essential to know when to seek professional help! Monitor the well-being of yourself and your family members as The Winter Blues can become very serious!
    • Severe cases of SAD can be treated through four main categories: Light Therapy, Psychotherapy/Talk Therapy, Medication Management, and Vitamin D Therapy.
    • Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider or an established mental health provider as soon as you recognize the symptoms of SAD are worsening.
    • Know that if you, your child, or someone you know is in immediate distress or thinking about harming themselves, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you reside in North Dakota, you can also reach out to FirstLink National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 211 (dial 2-1-1).

This blog was written by Post Adopt Coordinator Katie Davis, LBSW


Hull, M. (2021). Seasonal Affective Disorder Statistics. The Recovery Village.  Retrieved from Seasonal Affective Disorder Statistics – The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Seasonal Affective Disorder. (NIH Publication No. 20-MH-8183).  Retrieved from NIMH » Seasonal Affective Disorder (nih.gov).

Lyness, D. (2020). Seasonal Affective Disorder.  KidsHealth.  Retrieved from Seasonal Affective Disorder (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth.


Holiday Blues

By | Parenting

There is so much happening these days, between switching seasons – summer to fall to winter,  holidays to be celebrated, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, to Christmas – and a change of years.  These holidays, season changes, and new years are typically to be filled with joy, excitement, celebrations, connectedness to family and friends.  However, adoptive families may experience the holidays with a different shade than what was hoped or expected.

The intent of these hopes and expectations comes from a place of generally good but may leave you feeling frustrated or let down.  Parents, if you’re finding yourself in a hazy lens of mixed emotions, you’re not alone.  Many parents have found themselves in some array of disappointment as plans didn’t go as expected.  In planning for the remaining holidays of this year or planning for the holidays of years to come, there may be a few options to consider:

  1. Plan a getaway if need be. Large group celebrations characteristically take place over the holidays, filled with feasts, conversations, games, etc.  These details may create a cause of anxiety or feelings of fear for your youth.  Talk with your youth ahead of time about what to expect, and provide opportunities that can be done to help ensure there is an escape route to take place or a quiet place to unwind if need be.
  2. Plan events that are in the best interest of your youth. If the large group celebrations cause a great deal of dysregulation, plan to do something that better suits your youth and immediate family.  Perhaps dinner and movies/games at home will lessen the amount of dysregulation.
  3. See and acknowledge the loss your youth may be experiencing. Youth in the realm of adoption may have a multitude of losses.  These losses may include birth families, former foster families and traditions.  These loses may take a toll on a youth, leading a youth to feel isolated during the holiday season.  It’s important to have conversations with youth to acknowledge the losses.  Implementing some of the aspects of the youth into traditions in the adoptive home can allow for more connectedness for them.
  4. Allow your youth to grieve the important people they miss through the holiday season, as well as traditions that might not be able to be held. The change of plans or expectations you had hoped for may cause a sense of sadness or feelings of being let down.  Allow yourself to acknowledge and grieve the loss of your unmet expectations, too.

The key is to implement and tweak what works best for your youth, your family, and you.  It’s ok to do holidays, gatherings, and this season differently.  Step into having conversations with your youth and validate their emotions and losses.  Not only are your youth important, but so are you!  Allow yourself to be honest with how you’re feeling – be gracious with yourself as you reflect on where you may be at, as well.  Look at your family’s needs, and dare to step out of your norm to meet those needs.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW

Strengthening Relationships Through Communication

By | Parenting

Can you hear me?  Are you even listening?  These are questions we may ask ourselves while communicating with our children, significant others, friends, and even the cashier at the grocery store. Communication refers to the process in which one person conveys information to another person.  Information can be shared through verbal dialogue or non-verbal communication. While we know our words are important, non-verbal communication is responsible for up to 93% of conversation messages. This statistic indicates self-awareness of your own communication style and skills are vital in establishing and, ultimately, strengthening your relationships.

Communication self-awareness is essential in all relationships; however, establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with children through communication can be particularly challenging. Relationships between parents and their children can benefit greatly by emphasizing effective communication daily. Here are some tips on how to implement effective communication for you and your child(ren):

  • Be genuine and speak from your heart. Communication is a two way street!  It is important that parents show vulnerability regarding their own feelings and needs.  This gives children the opportunity to learn from their parents and create an open and honest dialogue in their relationship.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal messages.
    • Be aware of your tone of voice. How something is said is often more important than what is said.
    • Make and maintain eye contact as much as possible while respecting the child’s comfort level. Our eyes really can be the window to our souls.  By focusing on your child’s eyes, you will be more likely to interpret their feelings or emotions accurately and effectively show you are paying attention to your child and their needs.
    • Start conversations at eye-level with your child. For instance, if they are sitting on the floor, sit down with them.  Your posture and gestures can send strong messages to children.  For instance, if a parent is standing above a child when speaking their statements may seem threatening or uninviting to the child.
    • Listen with a closed mouth. This will limit interruptions when your child is talking.  You can offer non-verbal encouragement through smiling and other facial expressions to show you are actively engaged in communication.
  • Let your child know they have been heard.
    • Summarize what you hear back to your child in order to ensure you heard what they intended to say.
    • Feel free to ask questions about their story or statements. These questions offer children an opportunity to see you are engaged and care about what they are saying.
  • Keep conversations brief.
    • Have shorter conversations more often with your child.
    • If addressing an issue, have an initial conversation and schedule a time for you and your child to come back to the issue after calming down and preparing for the follow-up conversation.
  • Use communication builders/boosters like the ones below to open lines of communication:
    • “I’d like to hear more about that!”
    • “What did you think about…?”
    • “That’s really interesting. Will you say more?”
    • “I’m confused. Will you explain that to me?”

Effective and open communication takes time to establish, especially with children!  However, by increasing your self-awareness and focusing on your verbal and non-verbal communication daily, you will create a habit of being active in your conversations.  The result will be a closer and positive relationship between you and your child.

This blog was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Katie Davis, LBSW.


Elsevier B.V. (2021) Nonverbal Communication. Science Direct.  Retrieved from https://sciencedirect.com/topics/social-services/nonverbal-communication

Sheafor, B.W., & Horejsi, C.R. (2008) Techniques and Guidelines for Social Work Practice (Eighth Edition), Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Zolten, K. & Long, N. (2006) Parent/Child Communication.  Center for Effective Parenting.  Retrieved from https://parenting-ed.org/wp-content/themes/parenting-ed/files/handouts/communication-parent-to-child.pdf

Binge Eating Disorder and Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

By | Parenting

Throughout this blog post, I will be discussing the diagnostic criteria, symptoms and warning signs, and ways to help someone who may be struggling with Binge Eating Disorder and Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, or AFRID

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder occurs when large amounts of food are consumed and an individual feels unable to stop. According to National Eating Disorders Association (2018), binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. Binge eating disorder can be severe but is treatable. After an individual engages in a binge, they typically do not try to get rid of the extra calories by vomiting, using laxatives, or exercising like someone who struggles with Bulimia might. To help with the extra calories, they may try different diets or eat typical meals.

Diagnostic Criteria: According to National Eating Disorders Association (2018), to be diagnosed with binge eating disorder you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating are present. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both items below:
    • Eating an amount of food that is more than what most people would eat
    • Lack of control over eating during the episode
  • Binge eating episodes are associated with at least three of the following:
    • Eating more rapidly than normal
    • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling hungry
    • Eating alone due to feeling embarrassed by how much is being consumed
    • Feeling disgusted with self, depressed, or guilty afterward
  • Binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months
  • Distress regarding binge eating is present

Symptoms and Warning Signs: Below are a few emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms and warning signs. For a full list, please visit: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bed

  • Emotional and Behavioral: appearing uncomfortable eating around others, steal or hoard food in strange places, disrupt normal eating behaviors, creating lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge sessions, and eating when feeling full or not hungry
  • Physical: noticeable fluctuations in weight, both up and down

How to help: Engaging in an open and honest conversation regarding concerns can be helpful. You do not want to display feelings or emotions that may be conveyed as shameful or blaming. It is also important to normalize and reinforce a healthy body image. As always, it is essential to seek professional medical treatment for further assistance and guidance. It is important to research and educate yourself on binge eating disorder and recognize the warning signs and symptoms

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

According to National Eating Disorders Association (2018) ARFID is new to the DSM-5 and was previously referred to as “Selective Eating Disorder.” AFRID is similar to Anorexia as they both involve the inability to meet nutritional needs. However, ARFID does not involve any distress about body shape or size. ARFID involves not getting a sufficient amount of calories to grow and develop appropriately. It is noted that those with autism spectrum conditions, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities are more likely to develop ARFID (National Eating Disorders Association, 2018).

Diagnostic Criteria: According to National Eating Disorders Association (2018), to be diagnosed with ARFID, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • An eating disturbance associated with one or more of the following:
    • Significant weight loss and nutritional deficiency
    • Needing to take oral nutritional supplements
    • Lack of psychosocial functioning
  • Avoidant behavior is not explained by lack of available food or associated with cultural practices
  • It does not occur during the course of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, and no evidence in the way the body weight or shape is experienced
  • Not associated with a medical condition or mental health disorder

Symptoms and Warning Signs: Below are a few emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms and warning signs. For a full list, please visit: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/arfid

  • Emotional and Behavioral: reporting consistent gastrointestinal issues around mealtimes that have no known cause, lack of appetite, fear of weight gain, and restricting certain types or amounts of food.
  • Physical: abnormal laboratory results, frequently feeling cold, poor immune functioning, fainting, thinning of hair, and dry and brittle nails

How to help: It is important to research and educate yourself on ARFID and recognize the warning signs and symptoms. Being supportive and encouraging professional help can also be beneficial.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW


National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, February 22). Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/arfid

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018b, February 22). Binge Eating Disorder. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bed

Binge-eating disorder – Symptoms and causes. (2018, May 5). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/binge-eating-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353627

The Three R’s

By | Parenting

You may see your youth go from 0 to 100 in what seems like a second flat, with really no indication to why you see an exculpated behavior.  You may be asking yourself and your child, ‘what is going on?!’ as you’re trying to make sense of behavior(s) in front of you!  How many times do you hear your youth respond with, ‘I don’t know?’  The truth is, youth most likely don’t know what is going on.  And they might not be able to express the why behind their behavior for awhile!  Using Dr. Perry’s Three R’s may help you and your family bring down the escalated moment a bit quicker.

The first step in the Three R’s is to Regulate.  When youth are in their behavior, they’re utilizing their basement brain, known as the brainstem.  The brainstem is where primitive actions occur, and youth need their basic need of safety met.  The goal is to help youth come back down to their baseline.  Starting off, youth might not know how to regulate themselves, so a parent must walk beside the youth in order to help them regulate.  Helpful tools to use include: providing a quiet area, sensory items, music, or breathing in/out techniques (breathe in to smell the cocoa and breathe out to cool the cocoa off).  Just as it is important to allow the youth to regulate, it is important for the parent to regulate, as dysregulated parents can trigger youth.  So, as a parent, take a few moments and cool off!

When the youth is regulated, they’re able to move from functioning from their brainstem to utilizing the limbic part of their brain.  This is when the second R, Relating, can be worked through.  When working within the realm of relating, parents are to have a sensitive conversation with their youth.  During this time, parents need to be attuned with their youth and connect with them to validate their youth’s emotion.  An example parents may use includes, ‘I can see how that situation was very frustrating.  Remember parents, you don’t have to agree with the youth, but it’s more important to validate the youth’s feelings than to tell the youth their wrong in how they’re feeling!

The final step is to Reason.  This step is final because youth are now out of their primal minds, away from using their basic level of thinking.  This is where youth can think from the higher level of their brain, known as their cortex, where logical thought occurs.  Parents and youth can now talk about the behavior that happened and better ways to handle future situations.

It may take time for you to become comfortable in putting each piece of this into play.  It may take time for your child to respond to each part, and that’s okay!  Give yourself and your child some grace.  It may be a new technique for both of you to learn and implement.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW